Literacy Spot #37: Adding Literacy to Playtime

literacy play
Early literacy learning

Engaging a child playfully with literacy involves looking for purposeful ways to introduce aspects of literacy into their play. Like making bags of pet food to sell in a pet store.

Start by thinking about what your child enjoys playing and then consider possible literacy ideas or props that might act to enhance their play. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Shops: make open/closed signs, labels/signs for sale items and provide tools for ‘writing’ shopping lists.
  • Pirate play: create treasure map, ‘Wanted’ posters or a Captain’s log.
  • Dancing, theatrical shows or movies: make tickets or event programmes.
  • Doctor or veterinary surgery: add a pretend appointment book and script pad.
  • Hair salon: add an appointment book or make a style guide using pictures cut from magazines.
  • Fairies, witches, wizards: provide tools for ‘writing’ recipes for magic spells.

Is there a fun and playful way that you could add literacy to your child’s play today?

What is Childhood 101′s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.


  1. Gemma Wilson says:

    Such a clever idea…

  2. Jo @countrylifeexperiment says:

    I love these ideas. My 2 girls love to write their shopping lists when we go grocery shopping. (The younger one often uses pictures to remind her what the words say). They recently had a lamington stall and made signs for that (with my husband’s help). Also they enjoy sitting on our front gate and writing down the colours and types of cars coming by (eg red truck). Sometimes they also like to tally them up. The older one then likes to add up the total number of cars (I know this is more numeracy – but it was integrated in)

    1. What wonderful, purposeful ways to engage with literacy (and numeracy) 🙂

  3. Oh, I was thinking of you the other day Christie. My Miss 3 has been pointing to signs and pamphlets and cards, anything with words, and asking me to read it to her. Her eyes have been opened to literacy in the big wide world!

    1. That is so exciting, Megan. I love watching children on their journey into the wonder of literacy 🙂 Of course, your passion for books is sure to have a lot to do with it too x

  4. I love your fun feed bags here. Lots of ideas, pretending…and learning going on here.

  5. both my girls loved walking around with a clipboard taking surveys…on any topic…what’s your favorite color, where do you want to go on vacation, what do you like to watch on TV. It was so cute to watch them so seriously asking the questions and then take ‘notes’. (Even before they could spell, they’d write things down or draw pictures or just make random marks). At dinner time, we’d get a debrief on the surey results : )

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